Tags: adult land

28 May 2008, Comments Off on You’d think it was the Muppet show, but different Henson

You’d think it was the Muppet show, but different Henson

Author: Helen

For the last couple of weeks, longer than the furore over Bill Henson’s photographic exhibition, this photograph has stared out of the Entertainment pages of the local paper.

Rightly or wrongly (and we’ll probably never know), people have speculated for over a century about whether there was something creepy about Charles Dodgsons’ photographic sessions with the young Alice Liddell.

As Pavlov’s Cat points out, this child photograph, with the mildly disturbing come-hither expression and the dress falling off the shoulder, may be as problematic as any of the Henson photos, but no-one has called for its removal from the AGE entertainment section. Maybe it’s because she’s clothed. As Tigtog says, there is a certain conflation of sex and nudity going on, that should be questioned. Meanwhile, the marketing to little girls continues; sex-ay young adult-style clothes, highly sexualised Bratz dolls, tweenage fashion models and catalogue photo shoots using come-hither looks and poses, computer games that teach girls the man chasing meme at an age when they should be out climbing a tree, billboards with “Longer lasting sex” two metres high which you can’t escape; where has Disgusted of Burwood been all this time?

As Lauredhel says,

Plenty of feminists have been having plenty of problems with some or all of the above for a long, long time. Sometimes I really do feel invisible.

I agree with Clive Hamilton (via Tigtog) that perhaps the well has been poisoned by the commercial exploitation of young girls. In other words, it’s because so many advertising gurus and toy or game designers have cynically tried to drag early adolescents into adult-land that people have been unable to visually read Henson’s work any other way. I do agree that his work is very disturbing, but defining it as pr0nographic is not as straightforward as Disgusted of Burwood would like to think.

I also think that the concerns that many people have with the issue of consent are valid. There is just no one straight answer to this one.

Update: More from Sorrow at Sill’s Bend.